Photo Editing Monitors – How to choose?

A Guide to Monitors for Photography

Whether you’re a professional photographer, an avid hobbyist, or just a beginner, a quality monitor is a crucial part of your photography setup. All of us love being the field and experiencing the challenges of getting shot. We love finding that perfect composition, we love enduring the conditions to wait for the best light, and we flat out just like using our cameras to capture the world through our perspective. But, what comes after that? We need a means to view our captured images and to post-process them. That’s where a monitor comes in, and the specific monitor is very important to your post-capture process. Not all monitors share the same resolution, the same color gamut coverage, and the same cost. Without a doubt, the best monitors available are EIZO monitors. They have the most gamut coverage, excellent color accuracy, and offer the best performance. But, with all those great features comes a hefty price tag. BenQ and NEC produce very good monitors, just a tier below. If you’re looking for a budget option, Dell makes great monitors for a relatively low price.

Things to Look For in a Monitor

  • 8-bit to 10-bit+ wide gamut
  • IPS panel type – offers the best color accuracy
  • 24-32 inches
  • Wide-viewing angles
  • Good contrast ratio
  • Uniformity, no color tinting or pixel issues
  • At least 1 DP connection
  • Minimum resolutions of 1920×1200, maximum resolution of 3,840×2160

What’s Most Important To Me

I spend a lot of time post-processing images and there are a few points that are very important to me. I began editing images on a screen size of 15 inches, I then moved up to 24 inches, and I currently use a 27 inch a monitor. Screen size makes a huge different in my opinion. It’s MUCH more difficult for me to edit an image on 15 inch laptop screen, sometimes I even feel like my 27 inch monitor isn’t enough. But, most of the time I find 27 inches to be a great size to target, especially if you shoot with a high resolution camera. Color accuracy is a priority for me as well. I post and print on many different mediums and use multiple color spaces (sRGB, ProPhoto, and AdobeRGB), thus I like a monitor with a wide gamut. I’ve had a hard time keeping contrast consistent from display to display, and that can be a problem. Either your images have way too much contrast or appear washed out if your monitor doesn’t have good black and contrast specs. I look for a native contrast of 1000:1, for me, that ratio has resolved well when I transfer my images over to my iPhone and other monitors.

Monitors to Consider

  1. Eizo ColorEdge CG277 27”- $2,426.00 on B&H

Product Highlights

  • 27” In-Plane Switching (IPS) Technology
  • DisplayPort + HDMI + DVI-D Inputs
  • 2560 x 1440 Native Resolution
  • 1000:1 Contrast Ratio
  • 300 cd/m² Brightness
  • 178°/178° Viewing Angle
  • 6 ms Response Time
  • Built-In Self Calibration Sensor
  • 10-Bit Simultaneous Display
  • ColorNavigator Software

The Eizo ColorEdge CG277 is the best 27” monitor on the market, in my opinion. Yes, you can get ‘better’ monitors with 4K resolution, but I find 2K resolution to offer that perfect sweet spot of seeing just enough detail, but not too much. Combine that with an anti-reflective coating and the screen itself looks fantastic. The CG277 covers 100% of the sRGB gamut and 99% of the AdobeRGB gamut. You’ll get super wide coverage and great color reproduction/accuracy no matter what profile you’re working in. Reviewers say this monitor has the best brightness and contrast of any monitor available. And brightness and contrast is perfectly homogenous, that means there isn’t areas of the screen that are brighter than others (trust me, that’s an issue you see with lower priced monitors). The CG277 also comes with a state of the art built-in calibration sensor so expect to have no issues getting our display perfectly calibrated. The only downside is the price and the fact that this thing is built like a tank.

  1. BenQ SW271 27” – $1,099.00 on B&H

 

Product Highlights

 

  • 27″ In-Plane Switching (IPS) Monitor
  • USB Type-C / HDMI / DP Inputs
  • 3840 x 2160 Resolution
  • 1000:1 Contrast Ratio
  • 350 cd/m² Brightness
  • 178°/178° Viewing Angles
  • 5 ms Response Time (GtG)
  • 07 Billion Colors
  • 99% Adobe RGB Color Coverage
  • Built-In USB Hub

The BenQ SW271 is the best monitor you can get around $1000. It delivers almost everything you could ask for from a premium editing monitor. With the SW271, you get 4K UHD resolution, great color space coverage, and HDR. BenQ states that this monitor offers 100% coverage of sRGB and 99% coverage of AdobeRGB. The specs are almost identical to the CG277, but the devil is in the details, and the CG277 will outperform this monitor. However, for the price point, this monitor can’t be beat right now. It’s also very ergonomic and boasts plenty of connection options. The SW271 is on my own personal wish list. If you want a monitor of similar quality, but $1000 is above your price range, look into the SW271’s little brother, the SW2700PT. It sports a lower resolution, but it’s one of the best reviewed 27” monitors. It’s also about half the price.

  1. Dell UltraSharp U2415 24” – $209.00 on B&H 

 

Product Highlights

 

  • In-Plane Switching (IPS) Technology
  • HDMI/Mini DisplayPort/DisplayPort Inputs
  • 1920 x 1200 Resolution
  • 1,000:1 Contrast Ratio
  • 300 cd/m² Brightness
  • 178°/178° Viewing Angles
  • 6 ms Response Time
  • 78 Million Color Support
  • Built-In USB 3.0 Hub

If you’re on a budget, the Dell U2415 is a great avenue to go. Although bigger is usually better with screen size, 24” is ample enough for photo editing. I spent time working on a 24” screen for years before upgrading to 27”. For the price, there’s a lot packed into this monitor. It’s a 16:10 IPS monitor, with 10% more pixel coverage than 1080p resolution, it has a ton of USB hubs and plug-ins for further customization too. You’ll get 99% sRGB coverage and it comes factory calibrated out of the box. Generally, ‘factory calibrated’ can still mean a monitor is nowhere near calibrated, but reviewers and testers have found the U2415 to be one of the most accurate displays right out of the box. It has plus ergonomics, good contrast, and decent color too. Really, for $200 you can’t go wrong.

 

  1. NEC EA234WMI 23″- $269.00 on B&H

 

Product Highlights

 

  • 1920 x 1080 Resolution
  • 250cd/m² Brightness
  • 1000 : 1 Contrast Ratio
  • 178°/178° Viewing Angle
  • 6 ms Response Time
  • 7 Million Colors
  • 4-Port USB Hub
  • HDMI/DisplayPort/DVI-D/VGA

NEC is another brand known for making high-quality/high-end monitors. Usually, their monitors are priced around the $1000 range, but they also produce budget monitors like the NEC EA234WMI. The specifications are very similar to Dell’s U2415 and honestly, differences are pretty negligible. This is a great monitor though, but you might be paying a little bit more for the NEC branding.

  1. Eizo ColorEdge CS2730 27″- $1177.00 on B&H 

Product Highlights

 

  • In-Plane Switching (IPS) Technology
  • DVI-D + DisplayPort + HDMI Inputs
  • 2560 x 1440 Screen Resolution
  • 1,000:1 Static Contrast Ratio
  • 350 cd/m² Brightness
  • 178°/178° Viewing Angles
  • 10 ms Response Time
  • 07 Billion Colors
  • Built-In USB 3.0 Hub

Consistent with all EIZO monitors, the CS2730 lacks in aesthetics, but more than makes up for it with performance. Although still expensive, this model is much more reasonable than the CG277. It offers 2K resolution, 99% coverage of Adobe RGB, and great brightness at 350 nits. A really cool feature is the 10-bit simultaneous display on a 16-bit Look Up Table, in normal terms, that means the user  gets really precise tones and smooth gradients. This display has specifications that are eerily similar to the CG277, which is $1000+ more, and one of the only major differences is that this monitor does not come with a built-in calibrator. Thus, I think this monitor has great value and if you can afford it, I recommend purchasing this monitor out of all listed in this article for the best bang for your buck.

Matt Meisenheimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin.  His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special.  Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.

Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.

As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.

You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com

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